Word of the day

July 8, 2014

Cattywampus – askew, awry; in disarray or disorder; not directly across from nor adjacent to.


Rural round-up

July 8, 2014

National Ballance Farm Environment Award Winners Ready to Spread the Word:

 

Mark and Devon Slee celebrating their success with their family

 

Winning the 2014 Ballance Farm Environment Awards gives Canterbury dairy farmers Mark and Devon Slee the opportunity to tell some ‘good news’ stories about their industry and New Zealand agriculture in general.

The Slees were presented with the Gordon Stephenson trophy at the New Zealand Farm Environment Trust’s National Sustainability Showcase in Christchurch on June 26.

The couple was surprised and delighted to receive the award, accepting it on behalf of the entire dairy industry.

Mark Slee says he and Devon are proud to be dairy farmers. . .

 Soil mapping technology a big step forward  – Tim Cronshaw:

Four South Canterbury cropping farmers were so smitten with the precision of a soil sampling machine that they brought it back with them from the United States.

The Veris MSP3 3150 was imported by Colin Hurst and Hugh Wigley, who farm at Makikihi, in Waimate, and Michael Tayler and Nick Ward, from Winchester.

Commonly used in the big corn belts of the US since 2003, the technology is new to New Zealand, with only one other machine here.

The $70,000 machine is towed behind a tractor, and uses electrical conductivity to map paddocks for soil texture, and infrared measurement to detect organic matter, while constantly sampling soils for their Ph levels. . .

Grower lauds sugar beet ‘wonder fuel’ – Diane Bishop:

Sugar beet is the new wonder fuel, according to Southern Cross Produce owner Matthew Malcolm who has started growing and harvesting sugar beet for the dairy market.

“I can see a real future for it.

“With a lot more wintering sheds going up there will be a bigger demand to take the crop to the cows,” he said.

Malcolm, who has grown 10 hectares of the crop on his Woodlands property in Southland, was keen to try sugar beet which has a higher sugar content than fodder beet. . .

New Hort Graduate School launched:

Massey University and Plant & Food Research have formed a new joint graduate school to increase collaboration between the two institutes.

About a dozen Massey masters and doctoral students are studying topics that would in future be offered at the school.

This number is expected to increase with the availability of new research projects and supervisors from Plant & Food Research. . .

Spinal injury doesn’t stop Dave – Tim Cronshaw:

Dave Clouston knew his life would change the moment his pelvis jackknifed to his chest.

The fit farmer, hardened from years of mustering, was at his working peak and had earlier run through the forest to grab a tractor before his next job of stacking hay in a barn.

Clouston had worked his way up as a sheep and beef farmer on some of the best mustering blocks in Canterbury, and the young married man was managing a family business at Whitecliffs.

“I was stacking some hay we had brought in, and there was some loose hay on the floor of the barn. I jumped off the tractor to clear that away, and while I was bending over to do that the hay unsettled enough to come down on top of me – I never dreamed it would do that – from five high. They were big, square bales, and at least a couple hit me, and I was left pinned under one of them with my pelvis under my chest.” . .

 Shades of grey: ag’s power play – Sam Trethewey :

THE discovery of some snowy strands in my dark brown ‘do this week brought me both pleasure and pain – the ‘pain’ of ageing of course stings, but the pleasure was based on the realisation that the older I grow, the more I’ll be taken seriously in Australian agribusiness.

Most Australian business, including agribusiness, uses age-old management styles. It’s a vertical, top heavy system that that needs ‘workers’ not ‘contributors’. The sector has limited time for innovation and is resistant to change. We live in a fast-paced, globalised world and this structure is failing us.

These old school management styles put a lot of power at the top of the hierarchy and from there it’s a top down management approach (autocratic). . .


Digging deep to help neighbours

July 8, 2014

Our district has been deeply shaken by the shooting of more than 200 sheep.

But good can come from bad and that was illustrated at the special fundraising sale at Waiareka yesterday:

The sale raised close to $22,500 for the Stackhouse and Dodd families, both victims of recent sheep killings on their properties, with stock agents reporting ”generous” prices being paid.

Meanwhile, about $11,400 has been deposited in the Westpac bank account set up by Rural Women NZ North Otago.

When contacted, Ngapara farmer Peter Stackhouse said he was overwhelmed by the support shown.

”Words can hardly describe it … we’re really, really privileged to be in the North Otago area. We didn’t expect anything; it’s very, very humbling,” he said. . .

While the sale was about country people showing their support, he said he had also had calls from urban dwellers who were also very concerned and thinking about them.

The next best thing now would be for someone to be apprehended for the offending, he said.

Tapui farmer John Dodd said it showed ”good human nature against the opposite side of it” and he thanked the public for their support.

”Once you pick on one farmer, in my opinion, you’re picking on the whole lot. Farmers respond with kind hearts,” Mr Dodd said.

The sale was an initiative of Federated Farmers and the community, and it drew a much larger crowd than usual to the weekly Waiareka stock sale.

Organiser Greg Ruddenklau was ”over the bloody moon” with the result, after 168 sheep and several cattle beasts were donated.

”It just shows how much people care really, doesn’t it?” Mr Ruddenklau said.

While demonstrating the level of support for the farmers affected, it also showed that people ”don’t want these sort of things happening in North Otago, or anywhere”. . .

During spirited bidding, auctioneer Rod Naylor quipped: ”I wish it was like this every week”. . .

Mr Naylor said prices overall at the sale were ”generous”, compared to usual market value, which showed the buyers’ goodwill.

He described the result as ”tremendous” saying both the numbers of stock yarded and the prices achieved were higher than what had been expected.

Police said there were no further reported similar incidents over the weekend.

The first incident happened over the weekend of June 21-22 when 195 sheep were killed on the Stackhouse property, and at least a further 20 sheep were killed on the Dodd farm the following weekend.

In both incidents, police believed a firearm was used. Police actively patrolled the Ngapara area over the weekend and would continue to conduct patrols in the area, Detective Warren Duncan said.

A small investigation team, including some Dunedin staff, was working through information received from members of the public and carrying out inquiries.

Anyone with information should contact Oamaru police on (03) 433-1400 or call Det Duncan confidentially on (03) 433-1416.

Everyone in the area knows that this could have happened to anyone of us and everyone is happy to dig deep to help neighbours.

Money can’t replace decades of breeding which went in to the stud stock which were shot, nor can it take away the fear. But the generosity and good will locally and from further afield is heart warming.

We’ve been impressed by the police response too.

One of our staff was stopped and questioned on his way home late on Saturday night and a woman who had stopped to admire the stars found her car surrounded by police.


Opportunity or outcome?

July 8, 2014

One of the big differences between National and the parties on the left is that National focuses on the quality of spending while Labour and its potential coalition partners focus on the quantity.

Another significant difference is National’s belief in equality of opportunity and Labour’s in equality of outcome.

. . .Parker stressed Labour’s commitment to a balanced economy and greater equality of outcomes.. .

If you focus on equality of opportunity you’ll get better outcomes by helping people to help themselves.

If your focus is equality of outcome you’ll end up spending a lot more without making a positive difference.

A focus on equality of opportunity recognises some people need more help and some need less because they’re not starting in the same place.

It fosters independence and shows faith in people’s ability to help themselves when given a chance.

Focussing on equality of outcome fosters dependence.

 

It would result in throwing money and other resources at people and problems without requiring them to help themselves.

Communism tried to achieve equality of outcome and failed.

It did so because it ignored human nature and the fact that we can be equally poor or unequally wealthy.

The only way to get equality of outcomes is to drag down the top because those who work harder and smarter will always do better than those who don’t, regardless of where they start and what help they get.

Equality of opportunity might require some tough love, equality of outcome is just indulgence.

Equality of opportunity, recognising that those with less will need more help, is fair, equality of outcome is not.


Is synthetic milk a threat?

July 8, 2014

Scientists are developing synthetic milk:

Imagine a world where milk is not only artificially produced, but also free of lactose and cholesterol.

That’s the dream of three bio-engineers in the US who are preparing to produce a proof-of-concept of their cow-free milk.

Ryan Pandya, Perumal Gandhi and Isha Datar are the founders of biotech start-up Muufri, and by next year they’re expecting to have made the first batch of their potentially revolutionary beverage.

The purpose of the company is not just to produce a beverage that can be enjoyed by 75 of the world’s population, who are lactose-intolerant.
        They also want to reduce our dependence on animals, and developing this product would be an important step in that regard.

Muufri will be part of the Synthetic Biology Accelerator, sponsored by SOSVentures, and the team will be making their product at University College Cork in Ireland.

The team believes producing the key components of milk in yeast culture will make it possible to provide consumers and food manufacturers with the same products they know and love, but through a more sustainable, healthy and humane process. . .

Is this a threat to real milk?

It might well appeal to the lactose-intolerant.

If it is cheaper it could have wider appeal.

But the venture was prompted by opposition to big farms in the USA.

If New Zealand farms stick to doing what we do best and can continue to produce high quality, milk from pasture-fed cows, there will still be a market for our dairy products.


Not just farmers fear Green influence

July 8, 2014

Jon Morgan says farmers should fear Greens’ influence:

He’s right and they do.

Farming has moved a long way in the past few years and the current leadership of Federated Farmers gets some of the credit for that.

Instead of being defensive and/or belligerent  as previous administrations often were, they have accepted problems where they exist and worked hard to encourage farmers make improvements where they’re needed.

Farmers have been helped by improvements in monitoring and advice and further encouraged by meat and milk companies which are requiring much higher standards from their suppliers.

Where carrots haven’t worked, there are sticks. Regional Councils are imposing higher standards and taking a very strict approach to breaches of compliance.

In North Otago, at least, the return of farmers’ adult children in big numbers for the first time since the ag-sag of the 1980s has also helped bring fresh eyes and new approaches to farming practices.

The requirement for shareholders in North Otago Irrigation Company’s scheme to have environmental farm plans which are independently audited each year has helped focus farmers’ on their responsibility for care of the soil and water.

The resurrection of the North Otago Sustainable Land Management group has helped with education in best practice.

In spite of this most of the publicity about farming and the environment is negative and that’s what Green policy appears to be based on resulting in more restrictions and higher costs.

Mix that with Labour’s policies and throw in the influence of New Zealand First and Internet Mana and farmers are right to fear a change of government in which the Green party would have a say.

But it’s not just farmers – the rest of the country which eats the food they produce and benefits from the export income they earn should be just as worried.

Higher costs and lower productivity won’t help any of us.


Labour’s numbers don’t add up

July 8, 2014

Labour has left lots of unanswered questions about the costs of its policies.

Two and a half months out from this year’s election and already Labour cannot answer basic questions about the details and fiscal costs of its expensive early promises, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

“David Cunliffe, David Parker and Chris Hipkins had a ‘hey Clint’ moment on TV last night, when all three of them failed to answer a simple question about the total cost of their grab-bag of education announcements,” Mr Joyce says.

Labour has rejected having a Treasury analyst in its office, and it really is showing.”

Talking to media yesterday after announcing it would spend $403 million over four years to employ more teachers, neither David Cunliffe, nor David Parker nor Chris Hipkins could do the simple maths on how much their other promises would cost.

“That’s because their numbers don’t add up and their claims are misleading,” Mr Joyce says.

“For a start, the Government currently funds secondary schools for an average 20 students per classroom, well below Labour’s ‘new’ target of 23 students per classroom.

“When it comes to their costings, Labour’s figures include only the cost of the extra teachers’ salaries. They need to come clean on what the total costs would be including ACC, training, support superannuation, and all the other overheads involved in supporting more teachers.”

Mr Joyce says this is not the first time in recent days that Labour has undercooked its costings and exaggerated its promises to New Zealanders.

“Last week their press release clearly said they were going to end voluntary school donations – yet they put up only half the money needed to cover existing donations and none of the school activity fees parents pay.

And on Saturday they claimed they would provide every student between years five and 13 with a digital device worth $600 by providing a $100 subsidy and having parents pay $3.50 a week for 18 months. This will be news to Labour, but this adds up to only $373 per device.

“And just to top it all off, David Cunliffe yesterday confirmed he would look at buying back shares in mixed ownership model companies – even though he’s committed to spend all the money raised by the share offer programme and then some.

“After nearly six years in opposition, Labour has learned nothing about responsible economic and fiscal management. They really do need to start showing New Zealanders the money,” Mr Joyce says. “Labour 2014 is already starting to look a lot like the 2011 version, only trickier.”

If Labour’s policy was being marked it might get a pass for rhetoric but it would get a not-achieved for costings.

The party’s got the words but it hasn’t got the numbers to back them up.


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